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Author Topic: Enshittification and the Internet's future  (Read 2042 times)
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« on: July 02, 2023 @785.05 »

Well, the last few days have been interesting in regards to various platforms. For those who haven't been keeping tabs:
  • Twitter is now requiring people to have an account to view it as well as limiting how much accounts can even view a day, began to DDoS itself, and had its API break. With all of these issues seaming to stem from Twitter not paying Google Cloud bills and letting the contract expire.
  • Reddit went through with its API changes and is continuing to replace mod teams that are still protesting. All while trying to get more advertisers back to it.
  • Gfycat has had problems with uploading to it for some time and let its TLS certificate expire for a few days before announcing that it's shutting down on 1 September 2023.
When I wasn't feeling euphoric at the news of all this I remembered a term being used to describe this: enshittification. I looked around and found the article being referenced when enshittification is mentioned and after giving it a read it made me wonder, what will the Internet look like if this continues? If more of these major platforms shut down or at the least drive a part of their userbase out, where will their users migrate to and how will those other platforms be affected?

Personally, I can see enshittification as being what kills Web 2.0 and 3.0 since without funding from investors, advertisers, and VCs platforms like Twitter can't survive. But the fallout has me worried because not everyone should migrate like trolls and bigots, and that's not mentioning the server issues several platforms such as Kbin and Lemmy have been having recently because of user migrations. Is the collapse of these platforms a blessing in disguise, or a curse that we won't know is one until it's too late?
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« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2023 @836.75 »

I've been thinking a lot about this concept lately too... We're in kind of a weird place right now where pretty much everyone knows social media kind of sucks right now but they're like frogs staying in the boiling water since social media monopolizes so much of the internet and people forgot they have other options. A lot of platforms are "too big to fail", even Twitter despite everything still has active users (we'll see how all the rate limit stuff impacts that though). But it's so NOTICEABLE lately.

Like, it's this huge bubble but it's bound to burst eventually... The funny thing is that social media isn't even profitable.  :drat:

I feel like something's going to change/happen within the next decade? If i had to guess.
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« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2023 @858.21 »

I agree that it has the potential to kill the current web model we have with the usual giants and how they operate.
One other hint to that is Meta's recent interest in federation and asking big community hosters on Mastodon for off the record meetings to discuss that. This shows to me that even Meta is seeing the failure ahead and is trying to pivot.


Kev Quirk published the mail he got and his response.

The thing is, the big players joining the fediverse is not entirely good; of course, it can bring in better tech, improvements to ActivityPub or a whole new and better way to handle federation, but something similar happened already with XMPP - or rather, we should anticipate that there will be similarities. Big players can effectively kill federation if they want to, or at least dominate it to an unhealthy degree. So the current situation in regards to social media can have even bigger waves onto alternative, more niche communities like Mastodon, Lemmy, etc.

Edit: I have to say though, I don't really like the term that emerged about this; I read it like 4 times a day now and it's up there with "parasocial" and "gaslighting" now for me personally. I think it arose because we are angry and fed up and it is literally turning into shit, however something I have to criticize about it is that it does a bad job at capturing the core, the cause, the issues, where that comes from. It might obfuscate it, even. "Things just turn into shit now because they are plain stupid"; it should focus, in my opinion, more on the capitalist undercurrent of it all. I'd much rather see discussions online about whether this is one aspect of late stage capitalism or not, than just "everything is shit now", if you get me. The original author does this well, but not necessarily where the word is used elsewhere.
Edit 2: Melon was faster :grin:

« Last Edit: July 02, 2023 @896.39 by shevek » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2023 @887.56 »

The term sounds like its implying that things are worse now than they were in the past; but I think what its really talking about is imbalance. For a company or service, the only thing that matters is if it's giving people what they need, and if it can do that in a way that allows its own continuation. If it fails to do either of those things (often by prioritising one over the other too much), it will stop existing and be replaced sooner or later by something that can do both!

Facebook stopped being what people wanted years ago, and Twitter now really seems like its no longer giving people what they want; hence the ballooning of Twitter alternatives! In small indie projects I often see the opposite; lots of people provide services that others want or like, but they are not able to do it in a sustainable way because they don't have the time, money or support to keep projects up  :sad:

Its really a balancing act on both sides!  :unite: 

If something has gotten out of balance there's only two options; either it rebalances itself or it continues to loose balance until it goes flop! I guess Reddit is trying to rebalance itself, but its doing so in a very unpopular way; and I think its shooting itself in the foot by losing the support of its mod community!

Your deeper question is will the whole web 2.0 go flop? And I'd also ask.. will the entire web go flop? Eventually it will, although I hope that will be hundreds of years from now! It really comes down to the basic question; does the web provide people with what they need in a sustainable way; and what are the alternatives?

We are not going back to paper dictionaries thats for sure, people will always enjoy public communication; and for all their hype, AIs still need the web to gather information; so I think the web is safe for now! However it totally feels like a change is in the air  :omg:
« Last Edit: July 02, 2023 @891.57 by Melooon » Logged


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« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2023 @896.90 »

I agree that it has the potential to kill the current web model we have with the usual giants and how they operate.
One other hint to that is Meta's recent interest in federation and asking big community hosters on Mastodon for off the record meetings to discuss that. This shows to me that even Meta is seeing the failure ahead and is trying to pivot.

The thing is, the big players joining the fediverse is not entirely good; of course, it can bring in better tech, improvements to ActivityPub or a whole new and better way to handle federation, but something similar happened already with XMPP - or rather, we should anticipate that there will be similarities. Big players can effectively kill federation if they want to, or at least dominate it to an unhealthy degree. So the current situation in regards to social media can have even bigger waves onto alternative, more niche communities like Mastodon, Lemmy, etc.

Facebook et al joining the Fediverse is something I and many others do not want. We don't trust them because of their history of no regard for... well anything, their lack of morals, and their data harvesting. While they could be trying to move to a platform to save themselves from the stormy future, they could also be trying to do their own version of Embrace, Extend, and Extinguish or some other method to hijack and or ruin the Fediverse. Personally, I think Facebook is trying to do the latter given their track record.
I hope a majority of the Fediverse takes a stand and unites in defedirateing Facebook and other corpos. I know a few sadly aren't or are even supporting Facebook instead, which is what drove me to migrate from mstdn.social to tech.lgbt.
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« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2023 @127.59 »

i think that things will probably get worse before they improve, at least for the typical internet user that was using services like this a lot. with all the hostile changes that large web platforms have been making recently, i feel we may be approaching a major shift in the internet and its culture, although i don't know what it will entail.
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« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2023 @244.51 »

i want to address a few points, starting with a tangential, that are
all relevant to this.
some of these points may seem overly critical,
so it's important to remember in context that i'm a peripheral web user
that's entirely for the constructive abolishment of the core web
where users and able to learn and transition onto the peripheral web.
i just think it's often done without people who use the core web in mind.

i was talking to someone who exclusively uses the core web the other day.

The core web is the "default" internet experience for all human
beings, largely defined by monopoly-capitalist platforms like
Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Reddit, and others. Google, Microsoft,
and Amazon largely provide the foundations which define the (soft
but noticeable) boundaries of the core megalopolis through their
search engines and hosting services. That is to say that most
internet users are confined within the boundaries of what they
are able to search for and what has been presented to them. The
core web experience is profit-optimized, keeping individuals
within their platforms and services and susceptible to their
media in order to maximize advertising, sales, and data
collection.

it was particularly interesting hearing their takes on the peripheral web
(they know and have been on it as a result of me mentioning it anecdotally
a lot).
to highlight the important things that they raised:

1. a problem with the peripheral web is that it's too small and disjointed.
   it's hard to find other people and immerse yourself in the peripheral web
   unless you know what you're doing;
   something you can learn from sites like Melonland - with the issue that
   you need to find these sites first.
   i found Melonland through Yesterweb, which in turn I found through
   Midnight.Pub, which in turn I found through a friend hosting a website
   who only stumbled across Midnight because they were sick of Discord
   and Reddit, and wanted to find something substantial off of dominating
   platforms.
   i didn't know what a webring or webgarden was, until i searched for
   these terms.

   my points being here: I don't know how my friend found their way onto
   the peripheral web, and more importantly: they wanted to find their way
   onto here.
   if they were nonchalant like a lot of core web users, then what would
   have enticed them into learning? would they have remained engaged or
   wanted to explore? i don't know - but the lack of broad information
   in favor of specifics (How to make a website,
   Good social media alternatives, What communicative apps should you use?)
   makes the peripheral web daunting to folks that want to involve themselves.
   to me: that's a blessing and curse, but i digress.

2. they enjoy what can be done with the core web.
   they enjoy some of the content they can find on Twitter and Reddit;
   they enjoy the recommendations algorithms suggest to them -
   especially for finding music.
   they keep up with a lot of smaller alternative and indie artists who
   they've seen live because sites like Spotify recommended them.
   Spotify - a site that's horrible for artists but has a silver lining
   in enhancing discoverability because the platform's so large.
   i'm into underground rap and hip-hop. when i want to find music,
   my gotos are routing through forums on sites like SpaceHey or
   cycling through the suggestions of Beatbump and Invidious
   (front-ends for YouTube Music and YouTube, respectively).
   i find it very difficult to find new emerging artists on the peripheral
   web.
   this is the same problem as above. very few personal sites have music
   that i like, and often i run into deadlinks and have no idea where to go
   next because there is a lack of information as to how to do things
   on the peripheral web that is easy to do on the core web.

3. it requires constant effort to be involved in most corners of the
   peripheral web.
   when i inquired as to whether they'd be interested in keeping up with
   (micro)blogs on web revival sites, they responded that they would -
   but they would often forget to check unless they had things bookmarked
   (i know they would for a fact - we talk daily and they always mean to
   catch up with my blogs!)
   the peripheral web lacks notifications in a style concordant with most
   folks' experience with the core web.
   instead, what dominates the scene is RSS - which is great for the web.
   it offers a plethora of things,
   but it fails to account for anyone that is a digital visitor;
   distinguished from a digital resident that you can learn more about
   here.
   RSS is techy and difficult to learn about for both a webkeeper and a
   user.
   apps exist, sure, to make RSS easy to interact with - but first you need
   to explain the concept of it to users that haven't been introduced to it
   before.
   most sites have RSS, but it's rarely highlighted and often difficult to
   determine how to access:
   is it http://site.com/page.rss?
   how about http://site.com/page/rss?
   or maybe http://site.com/page/rss.xml?
   or maybe the site has a directory solely for RSS feeds at
   http://site.com/rss/?
   in which case, which of these is it again?
   http://site.com/rss/page.rss
   http://site.com/rss/page.xml

4. finally: the front-end design of the peripheral web is often hard for them
   to navigate.
   this is true for a lot of my friends that are core web digital residents.
   sites like Twitter (and my blogs, according to my friend) are easy to
   navigate because things are intuitively separated.
   it's easy to determine where things are, how things are divided from one
   another and where to go to get something.
   on the peripheral web, this is harder: artistic choices often hinder the
   ability to successfully navigate a site.
   this may not be the case with users fully immersed in the peripheral web
   (though it can be: i often struggle to find references to webrings whilst
   surfing), but this is a different story when introducing a core-web
   user to the peripheral web,
   when the user has grown accustomed to the minimalism
   that modern sites have with regards to sparse content.

note that these are just summaries of points discussed at length from various
angles. it's important that peripheral web users like me talk through the core
web - often more important than trying to educate core web users as to what
the peripheral web currently is, because we collectively shape the peripheral
web and need to accept that sites can simultaneously exist for ourselves and
others.

alas, there's a lot of perspectives on what the peripheral web should be,
and what sort of content folks should publish and interact with on it.
for instance, i hear a lot that TikTok is awful - most notably from a privacy
and a mental health standpoint (i.e. doomscrolling, "short stuff
is bad/saddening/uninformative/etc").
these views are very valid and relevant to the majority of people,
but i've often seen platforms demonized by people in the peripheral web.
normally, this is because they're big, owned by a corporation or politically
divergent from the user criticizing.
more often than not, this viewpoint is accepted by individuals around them,
and the boycotting of a platforms transcends into outright complaining.
then, the mediums of communication employed by the platform are criticized
in lieu of others.
i see this a lot on the front page of Invidious (a front-end for YouTube),
where content creators will offer (sometimes) constructive ways to
sustainably transition from the Bad Thing to the Good Thing,
but will subsequently overreach the point of educating folks by (imho)
tainting their content with harsh descriptions of the Bad Thing which
can understandably simultaneously sound like judgement upon the viewer and
preaching akin to a soothsayer.

the reason we have so many ways of communicating is because people have
clutched the creative freedom they're given.
a lot of people don't have this privilege, so condemning a platform, to me,
seems inappropriate </nay>
yes, it's great that Twitter has had a rocky few months (i openly hate Elon),
but Twitter isn't just Elon.
Twitter is the creative types that use it because the peripheral web
just doesn't advertize them enough to pay their bills;
it's also all of the programmers that Elon laid off when he bought the site,
who may or may not be struggling to find another job in a sector where
whether you get hired feels like flipping a coin;
it's also the place where minorities are able to express themselves,
as well as educate and defend others from those that would censor them.
i heard about the Kansas and Florida bill through the core web.
to hope for the destruction of the core web as it's presently known without
the presence of resources that can help folks transition to the peripheral web
would simply lead to another big giant snapping up Twitter's place on the web.
the way that people communicate will always exist: poetry and novels will
always exist as much as tweets and video essays will - so what's to stop
another platform from making something just as evil that lets users tweet
after Twitter's gone?
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« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2023 @582.77 »

Twitter stuff caused me to use Mastodon more now and Reddit stuff caused me to get on Lemmy.

Anyways.

Apparently Threads won't be available in the EU due to it not complying with EU privacy laws. If the big masses move to Threads, if all the fanartists will be posting on Threads... then I'd be pretty mad about being left out. In that situation, I wouldn't mind being able to see the stuff through Mastodon. Assuming Meta can't steal my private info through there.
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« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2023 @652.41 »

Twitter stuff caused me to use Mastodon more now and Reddit stuff caused me to get on Lemmy.

Anyways.

Apparently Threads won't be available in the EU due to it not complying with EU privacy laws. If the big masses move to Threads, if all the fanartists will be posting on Threads... then I'd be pretty mad about being left out. In that situation, I wouldn't mind being able to see the stuff through Mastodon. Assuming Meta can't steal my private info through there.

I also left Twitter and Reddit recently, and I really don't miss it for now ! In fact, I've surprised myself to have a lot more meaningful interactions on Lemmy than I had on Reddit. I'm starting to shift to the peripheral web few months ago, and it feels so refreshing !

Looking at the iOS store page of the Meta Threads app clearly shows the issue and why it is not (and will never be in the current state) EU compliant



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« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2023 @673.15 »

If there was one thing I noticed through all of this development it is that I don't actually need any of those huge social media "services" at all, nor their replacements.

I am content with e-mail, forums, and IRC/Matrix/XMPP.

In fact, I would like a social media site that worked a little bit like they used to a long while ago, where you made a highly customizable profile and could meet and stick with new people easily; but I think internet culture in general changed too much to make that possible, and so did we as people. Things like SpaceHey that are on paper what I want can nonetheless feel isolated and lonely; mostly since most people don't write or respond, very few "groups" for hobbies or interests exist, and most people are just there to present themselves.
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« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2023 @684.53 »

mostly since most people don't write or respond, very few "groups" for hobbies or interests exist, and most people are just there to present themselves.

I agree, this is also something I miss. It is hard to find spaces where people put effort into what they post, and respond to your responses, and are generally emotionally available.

I think the internet became too mundane and normal to be exciting for many, and since it is now with you everywhere for most people, there isn't this excitement of logging on for an hour or two and needing to fit the online interaction into that time frame. No looking forward to new messages since you last logged on 24 hours ago because, well, now we get new messages every hour of the day and see them immediately. With more and more people online and increasing around the clock internet usage, I also think the wild concept of "I am messaging someone from another country right now, isn't that crazy?" became nothing to even notice. That's just your every day life now and there is nothing special anymore about messaging strangers from far away.

That, and the fact that a big chunk of people are seriously burnt out of social media but also too reliant or addicted on it to even take a short break. The amount of people who leave all notification alerts on but seem to suffer half an anxiety attack whenever they actually get messaged is very crazy to me. I have all notifications off aside from SMS and Discord. But with what I've seen online and around me, and all the justifications and memes as to why many have trouble replying or being attentive and engaging online, they seem to be genuinely uncomfortable with direct communication now. Too many notifications over the years, so it is just a noise, an overload on their system; or they had some attacks in the past when lots of people ganged up on them and their DMs or reply/comment sections got raided with hate, I guess. Either way, feeling this uneasy, anxious and on the spot about a DM, comment or email is not a good environment to foster any close online relationship in; they are far more comfortable reading from people indirectly via a feed, and in turn, to not have to bring up the courage to message someone directly ("I'm scared I will annoy them/be creepy/be perceived as cringe!"), instead engaging indirectly via the feed if at all. The like is the safest option.

Then, imo, there is the other extreme - 24/7 active Discord servers with 200+ new messages every time you look, and they are all filled with people who seemingly never sleep, and there is a lot of immediate dumping of very heavy topics, feelings, their past and issues in an attempt to skip the time it usually takes to build trust and rapport and immediately build a pseudo-close relationship based on the fact that they are talking about their traumas with you. When people immediately share very private and vulnerable information with you, the relationship can feel much more intimate than it actually is, and that is capitalized on in these servers in my view.

And it's really difficult to find a middle ground, a sweet spot basically. It can feel as if we have the choice between people who never or barely respond and who seem stressed by any direct contact, or people who are very intense online and might also have intense topics.
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« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2023 @713.97 »

And it's really difficult to find a middle ground, a sweet spot basically. It can feel as if we have the choice between people who never or barely respond and who seem stressed by any direct contact, or people who are very intense online and might also have intense topics.

I think the ideal middle ground is finding spaces about a certain interest or hobby.

This has a lot of advantages:
  • People share common ground, so there is always something to talk about that personally interests you, and the people themselves are likely to be on your wavelength due to similar circumstances leading you into the same hobbies.
  • The space has a purpose, so if it's quiet, genuine questions, look-at-this-thing-i-found, advice, topical news and so on will fill up the void, and random trauma dumping won't have a place there.
  • Since the space has a purpose, people are less likely to just present themselves and all their labels and then cease to interact, but there will actually be a point in being and interacting there.

This is why queer spaces are so active and popular and common places to make friends (more than any other online venue); because talking about gender, sexuality, romance, identities and stuff is always possible, and you share something in common with everyone there that you can bond over. And then y'all will start gaming together, chatting regularly, and becoming friends.

More general-use spaces, like SpaceHey or Twitter/Facebook/Tumblr/ ..., are usually way harder to socialize in because you don't know what to talk about with strangers. Even this forum sometimes suffers a little from being too broad, but the uniting factor is that we all are into the web revival and art.
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« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2023 @722.56 »

Honestly I feel like both Reddit and Twitter are shooting themselves in the foot. Reddit less-so, but communities are still protesting so only time will tell if it's going to go the way of myspace. As for twitter, I think their recent touchgrassification strategy will be the death of the site. Maybe it will stay a hub for politics and musk fanboys, but it's hard to imagine that it will stay as mainstream as it has been.

To answer your initial question: I think that the only (mainstream) ways forward are a more decentralized web like what we saw in the late 2000s/early 2010s or a complete MAMAA monopoly on the core web. Yes that's very pessimistic for web revival communities, but it's what I really think will happen. Twitter and TikTok are basically the only real core-web rivals to big tech companies, and Twitter is figuratively on fire at the moment. If the fediverse takes off and goes mainstream, congrats to us! We've avoided 5 companies owning the universe. If instead it's Instagram threads and YouTube shorts, then we get to sit back and see if anyone is going to try and go after each other since all the little guys are taken care of.

3. it requires constant effort to be involved in most corners of the
   peripheral web.
I am content with e-mail, forums, and IRC/Matrix/XMPP.

In fact, I would like a social media site that worked a little bit like they used to a long while ago, where you made a highly customizable profile and could meet and stick with new people easily; but I think internet culture in general changed too much to make that possible, and so did we as people. Things like SpaceHey that are on paper what I want can nonetheless feel isolated and lonely; mostly since most people don't write or respond, very few "groups" for hobbies or interests exist, and most people are just there to present themselves.

Something that we need to talk about when discussing the core web, especially modern social media, is that it's designed to be addictive. When your main method of getting cash is by showing ads, you want as many users to see as many ads as humanly possible. We don't do that here. Indie projects, and especially the fediverse and web revival community, run on donations. If there is an ad or a sponsor, it's one little sidebar on the main page. That's it. But the way modern social media is, the idea that users have to post every single thought in their head, be trained to expect new content every minute, that you have to be an "influencer", just doesn't line up with that experience. So sites like spacehey become more and more niche. Just because of their nonaddictive nature, users stop showing up to post, and without posts to reply to and discuss, active users leave too.

I'm not here to say the peripheral web is doomed, it's just that we're playing the game with different rules. Without a cultural shift towards a less-addictive internet, we're kinda stuck just sitting around, waiting for people to get fed up with the core web, stumbling on us, and learning our new ruleset.
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« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2023 @730.65 »

Something that we need to talk about when discussing the core web, especially modern social media, is that it's designed to be addictive. When your main method of getting cash is by showing ads, you want as many users to see as many ads as humanly possible. We don't do that here. Indie projects, and especially the fediverse and web revival community, run on donations.

Yeah, but then we also need to talk about how they're designed to be so addictive and unhealthy, and recognize that the Fediverse largely only replicates those unpleasant design decisions.

Mastodon may lack quote tweeting as a means to combat harassment, but it still at its core is designed the same as Twitter: short public notices that set the bar for interaction with the author very high, incentivizing people to mainly present themselves and their labels in their profile and broadcasting their opinions out into the world like graffiti, instead of actually interacting with people. Holding a conversation on either Twitter or Mastodon is discouraged and "weird", and the only thing you can really do is publish short form posts that end up standing alone.

I think the reason why people leave the indie web and many Fedi social media is much more because there is no real reason to interact with anyone there. On Reddit, I know that I want to talk about mushrooms and can talk on the mushroom enthusiast subreddit; seek advice, ask questions, show off cool mushrooms, and get to know people who also like mushrooms. Any niche topic has its community, which is the entire appeal of Reddit. But on, say, Diaspora or SpaceHey? There's so many people with whom I barely have anything in common, or at least I don't know if I do because usergroups barely exist and actually talking about an interest or a hobby is borderline impossible due to the general use idea behind them all.

The best friends I made on the internet were ones I met in forums or groups about a hobby we had in common, because having something in common incentivizes talking about that thing.

The web revival needs a lot more hobby-specific communities and a lot less catch-all communities.
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« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2023 @734.73 »

short public notices that set the bar for interaction with the author very high, incentivizing people to mainly present themselves and their labels in their profile and broadcasting their opinions out into the world like graffiti, instead of actually interacting with people. Holding a conversation on either Twitter or Mastodon is discouraged and "weird", and the only thing you can really do is publish short form posts that end up standing alone.
because usergroups barely exist

Funnily enough, in a different tab I am currently reading this discussion that also brings up these issues. The discoverablity on the fediverse is bad and interaction is made very hard; someone aptly said "Honestly, requiring legwork to make the site interesting is something that will keep it from ever taking off." which echoes the points here about having to compete against addictive, easy to use sites pretty well too.
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